City buys Bayers Road property in preparation for future widening

Updated below

At tonight's meeting, Halifax council agreed-- in secret-- to purchase a property-- for a secret amount of money. All very cryptic.

But, given that the purchase is related to a "regional transportation corridor," and given that the three councillors who objected to it were Jennifer Watts, Jerry Blumenthal and Dawn Sloane, it's a reasonable guess that the property involved the potential future widening of Bayers Road. (The road is the border between Watts' and Blumenthal's districts, and a widened road would funnel increased traffic directly into Sloane's district.)

There are two Bayers Road properties listed for sale on MLS---a four-bedroom house at 7020 Bayers listed at $249,900, and a two-bedroom house at 6850 Bayers listed for $169,900.

Congratulations---you just bought one of them.

Discussion of property purchases can legally be held in secret council sessions, because there is expected to be some back-and-forth niggling over price, and the city needs to go into such negotiations without having an open hand. But in this instance, the cryptic paperwork states that the city is actually entering into a purchase agreement, not making an offer, so the secrecy played no role in negotiating a lower price.

Moreover, this purchase involves a contentious political issue---the controversial proposal to widen Bayers Road. At a public meeting last year, several hundred area residents came out in opposition to the proposal. Such matters of large public concern, which, if it proceeds, will cost the taxpayers many millions of dollars, are absolutely a matter for public debate and government openness.

Council is cheating the public of that responsibility.

Update, 12 August, 12:44: The realtor for the house for sale at 7020 Bayers says he has no contact with the city concerning the property. The realtor for the house for sale at 6850 Bayers hasn't returned my phone call. So....

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